Tampa Bay BuccaneersAn overview of the Buccaneers outside linebacker depth chart during Organized Team ActivitiesBrianna Dix
Organized Team Activities are in full swing. During the three-week voluntary instruction period, players gear up mentally and physically for the 2023 season. Prior to training camp, evaluations take shape as players return to the field to implement installs and technique fundamentals in a compilation of drills. Like every team in the NFL, the Buccaneers roster has shifted as draft acquisitions and free agent signings have modified the squad. There will be many competition battles materializing on the field in the coming weeks. The Bucs outside linebacker corps boasts several familiar faces, including Shaquil Barrett, Anthony Nelson and Joe Tryon-Shoyinka.
Last season for the Bucs defense, nose tackle Vita Vea spearheaded the charge with a team-high 6.5 sacks. At the conclusion of the 2022 season, Head Coach Todd Bowles vocalized his assessment of the team's overall pass rush, citing the need to see more pressure production from the outside linebackers.
The Bucs' defense suffered a significant blow last October as Shaquil Barrett suffered a torn Achilles tendon in the third quarter of the 27-22 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. His stellar 2022 campaign came to a premature end. Barrett, the team's leading sack producer of the previous four seasons, finished the 2022 season with 30 tackles, 3.0 sacks, six tackles for loss, six quarterback hits and a forced fumble. His closing burst catches opponents off guard and he leverages his speed to perform various moves in his repertoire. Barrett has a lethal cross-chop move and his twitchiness often overwhelms tackles. The seasoned veteran's highly-anticipated return will help elevate the squad to reimagined heights in 2023.
During his second year in 2022 occupying a full-time role at outside linebacker, Joe Tryon-Shoyinka showed promising flashes but never quite reached his potential. Finishing at the top of rushes to close on quarterbacks will be the focal point for Tryon-Shoyinka entering Year Three. In 2022, Tryon-Shoyinka posted 41 tackles (23 solo), six tackles for loss, 4.0 sacks, 14 quarterback hits and two passes defensed. With rare bend for his size, length, lateral agility and outside-in rush fluidity, Tryon-Shoyinka has a high upside. As he continues to face a gauntlet of block combinations and expands his toolkit of counters, Tryon-Shoyinka will reach an untapped ceiling.
Anthony Nelson, whose career has steadily ascended since he was selected in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft, signed a two-year contract extension with the Bucs in March. He has increased his sack total every season, emerging as a starter in the second half of the 2022 season. Nelson stepped into the starting lineup after Shaquil Barrett suffered a season-ending Achilles tendon injury. Nelson concluded the year with a career-high 5.5 sacks, tying for second on the team. He also forced a team-high three fumbles, two of which came on critical strip-sacks in comeback victories over Arizona and Carolina in Weeks 16 and 17 as the Bucs clinched the NFC South crown for the second-consecutive season. The fourth-year player received 680 defensive snaps during the 2020-21 seasons combined and tallied 633 last season after Barrett landed on injured reserve in Week Nine. Nelson became one of the most improved players on the Bucs roster, showcasing a refined pass rush arsenal. The former Iowa Hawkeye continues to develop and possesses outstanding length, quickness and a relentless motor. He will continue to vie for increased snaps in 2023.
In the third round of the 2023 NFL Draft, the Bucs drew from a deep class of talented edge rushers, selecting Louisville's YaYa Diaby with the 82nd overall pick. Diaby had a breakout campaign in 2022, posting 9.0 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss. The Buccaneers wanted to get faster all over the field and more proficient off the edge, and Diaby can help in both areas. Diaby ran a blazing 4.51-second 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine but also has the power element to match. He has natural explosion to attack gaps and pursuit skills to make plays down the line of scrimmage. The Bucs finished up the draft with three picks in the sixth round, the last of those was Eastern Michigan's Jose Ramirez. Ramirez was productive in Ypsilanti with 31.5 tackles for loss in 25 games over the previous two seasons, leading the FBS in sacks per game (1.0) in 2022. With urgency every play, Ramirez will strive to make a mark during the offseason for Tampa Bay.
"Again, we weren't going to force it, but YaYa fell to us and we were excited about it and to add another one that has been productive - the MAC is a quality football conference, they play good football there and [Ramirez] won defensive player of the year and was around the quarterback all the time," said Vice President of Player Personnel John Spytek. "The more you can affect those great quarterbacks, the better. It's easier to affect the quarterback than it is for our guys to cover forever."
The Bucs re-signed Cam Gill, who missed the 2022 season with a Lisfranc injury. The undrafted free agent out of Wagner has made significant contributions on special teams for the Bucs from 2020-21. Hamilcar Rashed was signed to the Bucs' practice squad in December and subsequently signed a reserve/future contract in January with Tampa Bay.
Position Group: Outside Linebacker
Shaquil BarrettBrandon Bouyer-RandleYaYa DiabyCam GillAnthony NelsonJose RamirezHamilcar RashedCharles SnowdenJoe Tryon-ShoyinkaMarkees Watts